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I recently moderated a one-hour virtual panel about the future of meetings using Zoom that went exactly according to plan (which is extremely rare!).  In preparation, I worked with the meeting organizer to clarify the “starting conditions” and to talk through potential format ideas.  Once we settled on our scheme, I sent a “run of show” to the meeting organizer for approval.  Once conceptually approved, I then fleshed out more details for the host and panelists so they could understand the flow and prepare appropriately.

Hopefully, you can gain some insight into this panel flow (which has been “sanitized” for a more general application vs. sanitized for the coronavirus!):

Host: Name

Moderator:  Kristin Arnold

Technician:  Name


  • Panelist A
  • Panelist B
  • Panelist C
  • Panelist D

The Objectives

  • Describe how strategic thinking will improve future outcomes.
  • List ways future face-to-face meetings could be modified to adhere to potential social distancing protocols.
  • List opportunities for planners and suppliers to leverage each other’s expertise for the benefit of all future face-to-face meetings.

Panel Flow:

Ten minutes to go: As participants log on, Host and Panel Moderator are chatting about the question in the chatbox:  “In 20 words or less, share your assumptions (you believe it is true or certain to happen) about the [topic].”  Panelists are encouraged to read these comments and be able to react.

0:00     Host – Welcome

0:05     Moderator – Review Agenda/Process

  • Provide overview of the panel and encourage questions (and comments!) in the chatbox. The conversation in the backchannel may be just as interesting as what is said on the panel
  • Take a poll via Zoom – a question with four options
  • Ask for panelist reactions/affirmations in the chatbox
  • Summarize into a few key messages

0:15     SEGMENT ONE – The “What If” Game

  • Moderator to identify a panelist, then provide a question that starts with “What If?” Panelist will provide a short response (no more than a paragraph) about what they “could” do, and selects another panelist to pick up the thread.  The new panelist can say “and” or “or”:
    • When the panelist says “and,” they ADD to the original idea (please do not say “AND” and then repeat what has already been said. ONLY say “AND” when you have something to ADD to the original idea).
    • When the panelist says “OR,” they provide a different perspective.
    • Examples of “What If” questions are (but not limited to):
      • What if your venue can’t accommodate your meeting specs under new social distancing protocols? What could you do?
      • What if your guests are unwilling to participate in a modified meeting experience? What could you do?
      • What if you move to a virtual meeting, but your speakers are not tech-savvy? What could you do?
      • What if your venue won’t release you from your contractual obligations? What could you do?
      • What if you can’t have an opening reception? What could you do?
      • What if your meeting requires hands-on learning, such as a wet lab? What could you do?
    • Attendees: please add your ideas to the chatbox! We’ll be collecting ALL our ideas and sending them out post-panel.

0:30     SEGMENT TWO – Rapid-Fire Session

  • Brainstorming session about [topic]. We’re going to brainstorm different ways future F2F meetings could be modified to adhere to potential social distancing protocols (no evaluation here, just making a list of possibilities!).  Attendees: add to the list in the chatbox!  Panelists:  Come PREPARED.  We will use the following order, so you’ll pop off your answer after the person listed above you:
    • Panelist First name
    • Panelist First name
    • Panelist First name
    • Panelist First name


  • Let’s talk about leveraging resources and ideas. Unique times call for unique solutions.  (Come prepared to share your ideas.)
  • Attendees: Add your ideas to the chatbox!
  • Discuss ways to leverage resources and ideas
  • Check in with Host regarding ideas in the chatbox
  • Summarize ideas

0:55     SEGMENT FOUR –  Final Question to All Panelists

  • What’s the one thing we should all keep in mind as F2F meetings return as must-attend events? (Please have several ideas prepared as we want to be additive and not repetitive in our answers!) Panelist identifies who should answer next until all have answered.

0:59     HOST –  Thank you and wrap up



Related Articles:

How to Moderate a Virtual Panel Discussion

How to Create GREAT Questions for Your Panelists to Answer during Your Panel Discussion

Panel Discussion Tip #185 with Jeffrey Hayzlett: Finishing Panel Discussions


For more resources on moderating panel discussions, visit the Knowledge Vault. To have Kristin moderate your next panel, visit the Powerful Panels official website.


Kristin Arnold



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Kristin ArnoldKristin Arnold
KRISTIN ARNOLD, MBA, CSP, CPF|Master has been facilitating meaningful conversations between executives and managers to make better decisions and achieve extraordinary results for 25+ years. She's a leading authority on moderating panel discussions and passionate about finding the perfect olive to complement a vodka martini.
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